The Secret Prince : Chapter 24 — A Bird in the Castle?

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Children are facing a time of increased solitude. I am a retired teacher writing the story The Secret Prince to show a child who faces a similar situation in which he is stuck at home (well, a castle in his case). A flood surrounds the castle and Prince Ronduin cannot go to school in the village and cannot run through the woods. How does he pass his time? Can Ronduin be a role model for children today? Can the story help to normalize the experience of being stuck at home? I’ve been pleased to learn that a growing group of families is reading this to their children as the story grows. Teachers are also using this story with their classes. My goal is to add a chapter each Monday and Thursday. Perhaps you will join us.  

Kim Allsup

If you are new to this story, start here:

You will find a link to the next chapter (as soon as it is available) at the end of each chapter.

Some teachers and parents follow the time-tested approach (used in Waldorf Schools) of telling a story on one day, then asking the child to retell it the next day. The day after that the child engages in an activity related to the story: writing, math, drawing, making or using a jumprope, building a model, sewing a bean bag, or making a map for example.

Many thanks to Joel Aragón Colín who is translating the story into Spanish and to Phan Lê Minh who is translating the story into Vietnamese. Also, a volunteer has offered to translate The Secret Prince into Russian!

Please join us for conversations, updates, ideas for follow up activities, new chapters and translations by joining The Secret Prince Story Community on Facebook:

You might want to sign up to receive an email with the full text of each chapter when it is posted on this blog.  

A note about Chapter 24.  

This chapter includes a game that includes addition. Your child(ren) or your students might want try this simple game. (If you are reading to a child who is not yet in first grade, you might want to shorten the section where Ronduin throws Apple into the basket and adds up points.)  

Chapter 24

Ronduin saw something in the distance. At least he thought he saw something. Standing by the door to the balcony he looked down the third floor hallway. Far down the hall, he saw the thing moving, flying through the air, it seemed, above, some scaffolding. Whatever it was, a bird maybe, it seemed to keep rising from below and then fall again, the way a small bird might fly up. 

Now, Ronduin stepped through the door onto the balcony to visit with Sunrise and Sunset. It was midday and he found them sleeping together in one of the baskets. Ronduin didn’t want to disturb the chickens, so he sat down on the other end of the balcony and took Apple out of his pocket.

“I saw it again,” Ronduin whispered to his throwing sack.” Apple listened quietly. “I think maybe a bird is in the castle. But I’m not sure. Sometimes it seems to fly like a bird, but, if it were a bird, I think I would sometimes see it resting. It  goes up, then, it comes down. I’ve seen it seven times, four times yesterday and three times today.”

Just then Ronduin heard Sunrise and Sunset clucking. Ronduin stayed perfectly still thinking the two chickens might not notice him if he did not move. 

Sunset strutted to the food dish and pecked at the leftover porridge that Ronduin had brought to the chickens earlier that day. Sunrise joined Sunset and, together, they clucked contentedly as they pecked at their food.

Neither chicken seemed to notice Ronduin who sat as still as a statue. He sat there a long time while the two hens paraded up and down, apparently not not realizing he had joined them.  

Ronduin sat cross legged with Apple sleeping on his left knee. He stared off across the water in the courtyard and toward the top of the castle wall in the distance. Then he blinked. “I think it’ s the bird again,” thought Ronduin, sending his thoughts to Apple, but not speaking out loud. 

“Actually maybe two birds, or three. One pops up and falls down. Then another. It’s so fast it has to be two or three birds.”

Continuing to sit very still, Ronduin watched for awhile, puzzling about what he was looking at. He did not notice that Sunset had quietly crept up close to him.

Suddenly, she pecked at Apple. 

Ronduin was startled, yet he did not move one muscle. Now his attention was on Sunset who had never dared to come so close to him. 

“Should I try to hold her?” Ronduin wondered. He watched Sunset peck again and again at Apple. Apple did not seem to mind. 

“I suppose if you can stay still while a being pecked by a hen, then I can  be still too,” thought Ronduin, sending his thoughts to Apple. 

Suddenly, Sunset hopped up onto Ronduin’s knee. Sunset’s foot was on Apple as if she were claiming the throwing sack for herself. Ronduin smiled.      And then Sunset scampered away as if Ronduin’s smile alerted her to the fact that he was not a statue after all. Ronduin stood and tucked Apple into his pocket.

Back in the hallway, Ronduin found the empty basket he had left on the scaffolding near the balcony door. He had it in mind to make up a game that he could play with Apple. 

He set the basket on the floor and took five backwards steps. Pulling Apple out of his pocket he said, “Apple, we get one point for each step. If we can get you into the basket from five steps away, we get five points. Are you ready?”

Apple looked interested in the game, so Ronduin gently threw her into the basket.  

“Five points for us,” he said. 

He retrieved Apple and threw again. “Five more points,” he said. “Now we have ten.

Ronduin’s next throw hit the basket on the rim before it fell in. 

“I think I’ll take away one point when it hits the rim,” said Ronduin. “So, now we have 14 points.”

Ronduin retrieved Apple from the basket and this time he walked backwards six steps.

“Now we get six points for a good throw,” said Ronduin. 

He threw Apple and she flew right into the basket. “Now we have 2o points,” he told her. 

Next he walked backwards 15 steps. “We can get a lot of points if you can fly into the basket from here,” he said. Ronduin threw Apple but she fell short. He walked to Apple, picked her up and again walked backwards 15 steps from the basket. “A little farther this time,” he said to Apple encouragingly.

This time, when he threw Apple she went too far. After picking up the throwing sack, he stopped and looked at Apple, resting quietly in his hand. “What do you think, Apple?” he asked. “Is 15 steps too difficult for us?”

He listened carefully and heard Apple tell him, “Let’s try again.” 

Ronduin walked backwards 15 steps and threw Apple. This time she flew right into the basket. 

Ronduin ran to Apple, picked her up and spun around and around, hugging her to his chest. “We did it! We did it!”  

Ronduin and Apple played this game for a long time. When they reached 293 points, Ronduin said, “If I take seven steps this time, we will have 300 points.” He tossed Apple into the basket with ease. Satisfied, Ronduin realized he was very thirsty. “We can find water in the sitting room,” he said to Apple.  “And then you can rest and we can play again tomorrow.” 

Approaching the door to the sitting room, Ronduin noticed that it sat open. Just before entering, something in the far end of the room behind one of the big stuffed chairs caught his attention. Ronduin stopped and watched. Something flew up higher than the chair. He wasn’t sure what it was, but it wasn’t a bird. Before the object could fall out of sight behind the chair, a second object flew into the air and as the first object fell out of sight, another object rose up. 

Ronduin did not know what he was looking at. It seemed that he was again watching the flying objects he had seen in the hallways and across the courtyard. And, if they were not birds, what were they? 

Now, a person rose from behind the chair. They were facing the window and Ronduin looked at their back. Startled, he realized that it was his mother and she was doing something that appeared impossible. She was throwing three small things one after the other and the things went up and came down and she caught them every time and threw them up again, without ever stopping. It seemed that the things moved in a circle in front of her and she made the circle go round and round, effortlessly. 

Ronduin had never seen anything like this. He wondered where his mother   learned this skill.  Did a sorcerer teach her? 


Here is the portal to Chapter 25

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